Mexico Police Chief Roy Hodsdon stands beside the department’s new incident command vehicle obtained through a free military surplus program. Rumford Falls Times photo by Bruce Farrin

 

MEXICO — Police Chief Roy Hodsdon said vehicles and other equipment the town has obtained from military surplus since last October would not have been possible if taxpayers had to pay for it.

He estimated the two trucks, one trailer, four four-wheelers and a grader for use by the Police, Fire and Highway departments and the Water District are worth an estimated $300,000. The only cost to the town was around $2,000 to bring the grader from Pennsylvania.

The equipment was found online, and most of it came from the U.S. Army base in Fort Dix, New Jersey. Among the pieces are a truck and trailer for an emergency command post, a utility truck for the Fire Department, a grader for roadwork and four-wheelers for searches, rescues and patrols.

“You basically do a search and I just happened to be looking one morning and this trailer, the truck and the four-wheelers were all available from Fort Dix,” he said. “I saw that it was a big trailer and I had nothing to haul that, so I scrolled down and there was that truck. It was a diesel, a four-door and has a boom on it. I said, ‘we could make that work.’ There was only 16,000 miles on the truck. So I put in for it and I put in for the four-wheelers, and everything turned out.”

Town Manager Jack Gaudet gave his support for the acquisitions.

Mexico Police Chief Roy Hodsdon stands in the department’s new incident command trailer with his niece and nephew, Sylvia and James Hodsdon. The trailer was obtained through the military surplus program. Rumford Falls Times photo by Bruce Farrin

“We sat down and talked to the other department heads to see what we could use these for,” Hodsdon said. “The truck, for instance, is going to have a light bar boom on it so we could light up a street. The Water District, if they have a water pipe main break in the middle of the night, we’ll be able to bring it to them, have the blue lights to keep them safe, and have the boom light to light up the hole.”

The utility truck for the Fire Department needs a new motor, but Hodsdon said he is confident he can find one through military surplus.

The small grader has just 1,100 hours on it and is in great shape, he said.

“The reason we wanted it is that we’re building our own firearms range on some town-owned property at the old town dump on Poplar Hill” and the grader will be used to build the road to it. The gun range will be for law enforcement personnel only.

Richard Philbrick, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said the only cost was around $2,000 to have the grader transported from Pennsylvania.

Hodsdon said he’s been looking for five or six years for an critical incident trailer.

“After last summer’s incident when we had the New Hampshire man murder his wife and flee to our area, I decided we needed something because a lot of us were not able to get out of the elements” he said. “It was hot that day, we were out on ATVs looking in the woods.”

The all-weather trailer has heating and air conditioning. The truck has a fully-served generator worth about $100,000.

“We need a place to be able to gather and have intel talk out of the elements. We’re somewhat isolated up here. Even if the state police were to come up here with a trailer or something, it could be hours,”  Hodsdon said.

The Police Department can’t sell the military surplus equipment for one year, he said.

Hodsdon plans to sell older equipment to help maintain the military surplus.

“This is really going to help us out, especially in a small town where we don’t have a lot of money,” he said. “There’s no way we could have gotten this equipment on our own.”

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